Saddam takes over as Prime Minister

BAGHDAD (Reuter) - The Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, sacked his Prime Minister yesterday and took over personally as head of a new government to tackle a grave economic crisis.

The ruling Revolution Command Council (RCC) said the change was needed because of the 'unjust (United Nations) embargo and the need for special effort on economic issues to protect the living standards of the people'. There were no major changes in the cabinet, with ministers keeping their posts.

The RCC announcement, carried by the official INA news agency, said President Saddam would have three deputy prime ministers.

These were the Vice-President, Taha Yassin Ramadan, Tariq Aziz, already a deputy, and Mohammed Hamza al-Zubeidi. All are members of the RCC, and confidants of the President in the ruling Baath party.

The Prime Minister, Ahmed Hussein Khudayyir, was sacked after the Iraqi currency, the dinar, plunged to new lows, sparking a direct attack on him by a newspaper published by President Saddam's son, Uday.

Uday's newspaper, Babel, openly blamed the government for the currency's fall.